FUEGO, FASHION FREAKSHOWS AND FAILS: The good, the bad and the “other” of Eurovision 2018’s first semi final
Not only has Eurovision 2018 arrived – it’s begun with a bang, as 10 semi-finalists became bonafide finalists and 9 poor non-qualifiers (including one angry Swiss woman in a hat, so I heard) were sent packing last night in Lisbon. There’s a lot to talk about and a lot of opinions to be aired, and I’m about to talk and air mine for anyone who’s interested!
BTW, if you were wondering why my qualifier predictions didn’t pop up here on EBJ pre-semi, it’s because I posted them on my Instagram and Twitter. If you want to see how accurate I was (before I mention it later in this post) and don’t want to miss my predictions for the second semi – or the final – make sure you follow me socially @EurovisionByJaz. All the links are in the sidebar.
Now, let’s have a chat about the yays, the nays and everything else that caught my attention during yesterday’s first semi final.
I’ll start with perhaps Portugal’s biggest triumph as a first-time hosting nation: the visual delivery of the 2018 theme/concept/slogan. I was already shipping a Eurovision with a nautical overtone (though those terrible puns from Daniela nearly put me off entirely) and I wasn’t disappointed with the beautiful intro/interval graphics and postcard transitions.
Also tapping into the theme was the stage – obviously. As a non-rehearsal watcher, last night was the unveiling of it in action for me, and I have to say the design and lighting setup was impressive. It looked LIT AF, in fact (pardon the pun/irritating Gen Z slang). I did end up missing the LEDs a fair bit, but I’ll get to that.
Onto the cream-of-the-crop performances now, and the first to get me on my feet was my second favourite, the Czech Republic – and to think there was a chance Mikolas might have had to withdraw only a week ago! It’s a Paula and Ovi miracle (definitely not a Samra miracle) that he got off the hospital gurney and back into his braces with time to spare. You could tell he was treading carefully, but with the backing dancers providing the gymnastics and Mikolas himself compensating with backpack-loads of attitude, no enjoyment was lost for me. I would have voted the SHIZ out of this if I could have (and I’m flexing my texting fingers for the final, Mr. Josef…don’t you worry).
Israel, as I expected, did not come across as the winner we thought it would be up until recently (it’s just too motherbucking bonkers). But Netta is absolutely adorable, and I’m filing her performance under my highlights because the replication of Toy’s vocals live – without the infamous looper – was surprisingly slick and almost studio-perfect. Best hairstyle of the night by far, too: Princess Leia plus My Little Pony is a good combo.
The most impressive three minutes on that impressive stage, in my opinion (like I’d be typing out anyone else’s opinions), belonged to Estonia. Wow, wow and more wow. I didn’t think Elina needed that crazy expensive dress clashing with her undeniable vocal talent, but it turns out I would have missed it if it wasn’t there. She is stunning, the vocals were exquisite, and I think the dress projections were worth Estonia’s spending spree. It helped score them their first qualification since 2015, after all. As for a win now they’re in the final…I’m not convinced, but this certainly stands out (and Elina literally stands about six feet over everyone else).
The touching, pan-European Amar Pelos Dois do-over defrosted even my icy, unfeeling heart – but any tears that sprung up in my eyes could have come at the sight of a) Svala, after I’d just seen Our Choice be the biggest glow-down in ESC history, or b) Norma John, which triggered the memory of Finland’s shock DNQ last year. Or maybe even Kristian Kostov, because he’s so damn dope and so much cooler than I will ever be. I don’t begrudge (much).
Now, on the results…after all my see-sawing when trying to predict the SF1 qualifiers, I ended up not being shocked at all, after revising my guesses mentally once all 19 performances were through. I got 8/10 Qs correct (I’d anticipated Azerbaijan and Greece rather than Albania and Ireland) which was good news for me (I didn’t humiliate myself! YAY!!!). And I also felt that the results made sense. Albania and Ireland definitely deserved to make the final – Eugent on those powerful, flawless vocals alone. As for Azerbaijan, who have now lost their 100% qualification record – well, I saw it coming after a okay performance of an okay song from Aisel. Maybe that will teach the land of (yeah yeah yeah) fire to rely on sound-alike Swedish productions.
Here’s something I knew months ago: four hosts is too many. Something else I suspected that was confirmed last night: a script not written by Edward af Sillén is massively inferior to a script Sweden’s 2018 commentator did pen. Contrived, clichéd, and packed with jokes that nobody of sound mind would find funny, this script (and the people reading it…sorry, ladies) will not go down in history as one of the contest’s best. Fortunately, we’re really here for the music and results announcements that nearly push us over the edge, and Portugal has delivered on both of those fronts so far.
Belgium’s three-year run of success came to a screeching halt after Sennek turned out a reasonable but not spectacular performance of A Matter of Time. I never connected with this song on the same level as Rhythm Inside, What’s The Pressure and City Lights – I didn’t feel that it had as much to offer. It wasn’t the car crash I semi-expected live, but girl was NERVOUS and it showed (and not in a vulnerable, ‘We MUST vote for her!’ way á la Blanche). Also…WTF was she wearing? I can only assume it’s an oversized lampshade from Ikea’s upcoming collection that she borrowed from work. Yikes.
The aforementioned Kristian Kostov left Bulgaria with big shoes to fill, and I don’t think Equinox was up to the task. Sure, they qualified, but I found their performance of Bones overly cold and a little uninteresting – visually boring too, which is unusual for a Sacha Jean-Baptiste creation. Bulgaria aren’t winning Eurovision 2018, and I’ll be very surprised if Equinox come close to Kristian’s second place.
When it comes to ‘What were they thinking?’ moments, Macedonia gave us the whole enchilada. Aimless wandering and a ridiculous costume that was then ripped off to reveal an even more ridiculous (and very distracting) one equaled staging that made a messy-sounding song look messy as well. If Marija had put her tuxedo jacket on the right way round and kept it on, some dignity would have been retained, but…oh dear.
Just because my jaw wasn’t on the floor during the results doesn’t mean I wasn’t heartbroken by a few DNQs. Armenia – my bronze favourite of the year – hit the hardest, even though I understand why the televote wouldn’t have been strong enough for Sevak. I do think we’ll see that the jury vote for Armenia was stronger, but even so there wasn’t enough going on during his performance to make it exceptional (the vocals were exceptional, though).
I was also disappointed by Switzerland not making it. Zibbz produced such a cracking performance of Stones that I expect to see them in 11th – 12th or 13th at the lowest – when all the stats come out post-final. Apparently Corinne was raging in the green room after her country’s name didn’t leave any of the hostesses’ lips, and I can’t say I blame her. You let it out, Coco.
As impressed as I was by the overall look of the Altice Arena stage and the flexibility of the lights, I felt that the lack of LEDs was clear in the stage not looking as different for each performance as it usually would. Some countries – Austria and Cyprus, for example – transformed the stage, but for the most part it felt like 19 acts competing on the same platform with the same background, rather than 19 unique ‘looks’ being created. I appreciate what RTP was trying to do by scrapping built-in screens, but it backfired a bit. I’d like to see them back in 2019.
It’s not that often we see artists failing to mask their nerves on stage, but there were a couple of obvious shaky hands last night – and neither of the people those hands belonged to managed to make it to the final. I’m talking about Alekseev and Sennek, who I couldn’t help feeling sorry for. I’m surprised Alekseev kept his hold on that rose for as long as he had to. Maybe he listened to Hey Ya by OutKast as part of his pre-performance routine and decided to ‘shake it like a Polaroid picture’. You never know.
There were a handful of performances that I felt were missing something – something that, if heard or seen, might have elevated them to exceptional. For Belarus, I’d say it was the original version of Forever. The less dramatic piano-heavy revamp took away a big chunk of impact, and made the performance feel like it was lumbering along. For Croatia, I wanted darker, moodier lighting and a spotlight on Franka to up the glamour and sex appeal (not that she herself needs much help in those areas *fans self*). And for Austria, the only thing I’d pick on is the unseen backing singers. I think Cesár needed them to strut out onto the platform behind him for the final chorus (like he did when singing backup for Poli Genova in 2016) to make the stage feel less empty and remind us that the gospel backing wasn’t coming from some mysterious disembodied choir.
As we all know, Cyprus was the one to overtake Israel in the odds a few days ago, and while Eleni’s performance was as fiery as Fuego needed it to be (and let’s get this out of the way – she is as HOT AS HELL, and I say that as a straight woman) I’m having trouble seeing it as a winner. I don’t think we’re quite going to get to Cyprus next May, though I am willing to stand corrected if it means a second sun-and-sea contest in a row (one I might actually be attending).
That’s all I’ve got to say on Lisbon’s first semi final at this point – I’m actually amazed I word-vomited this much after a basically sleepless night (the 3am wake-ups are worth it, but they’re hard work). Let me know in the comments what you thought of the show, how your predictions panned out and how many of your favourites you’ll get to see compete on Saturday night.
One down, two to go! Eurovision 2018 is still in its early stages y’all, and I am PSYCHED! Half of the second semi’s points will be handed out tonight in the jury show: excitement. It’s an unpredictable year: excitement. Anything could still happen…MASS EXCITEMENT. Seriously, I’m in need of some tranquilisers here (and I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, because AS IF I’ll be able to concentrate on anything not related to Eurovision right now).
Anyway…I’ll see you after semi 2 for more post-show verdicts!
Portugal, proposals and some pretty terrible predictions: My post-semi + pre-final thoughts on Eurovision 2017!
Well, Eurovision week has flown by faster than Belgium’s betting ranking dropped after the first round of rehearsals (fortunately for Blanche, they’ve crept up again). The countdown to the grand final is on, and at the last minute, Kyiv 2017 has become a bit less ‘Where in Italy are we going next year?’ and a bit more ‘Where else could we be going next year?’. But more on that later.
First, I’m going to take a quick look back at the semi finals. They may not have lived up to Stockholm’s in terms of slick production, interval entertainment value and host awesomeness (Petra, Måns, and Edward af Sillen’s genius scripting skills left three sizeable pairs of shoes to fill) but they definitely delivered on great performances from 36 countries on a sensational stage, and on qualifier shocks.
Semi Final 1: Treadmills, twirling braids and bye bye Blackbird
The best of Ukraine was on show on Tuesday night, with rapper Monatik kicking things off; Verka Serduchka playing a part (I’m always happy to see the namesake of my car, Vercar Serduchcar); and reigning champ and all-around goddess Jamala nailing performances of 1944 and Zamanyly. That was all on either side of/in-between the 18 acts competing for the first ten final tickets, of course.
This was the weaker semi final as far as my personal favourites were concerned – and I do think there were more disposable songs on offer, which made parting with them less painful. That was before I knew what was to come when our non-green-room hosts Vova (I may have misheard that nickname for the majority of the show) and Oleksandr announced the qualifiers. But before I have a good old groan of ‘WHY, GOD, WHY?!?!?’ about that, here are my top 5 performance highlights of the night.
- Sweden Yeah, like you didn’t know this was coming. As a Swedeophile who saw Robin win Melodifestivalen in the flesh, I was never going to be anything less than psyched to see him at Eurovision. I Can’t Go On was a great show opener, and Mr. Bengtsson made all the right moves. We expect perfectly polished performances from Sverige, and that’s what we got.
- Finland Norma John are another act that made barely noticeable changes to their national final performance for ESC purposes. They didn’t need to overhaul Blackbird’s presentation, because it already had all the power it needed to be stunningly heartbreaking. At least, that’s what I thought.
- Moldova I’d single out the Sunstroke Project as my absolute evening highlight. Everything about Hey Mamma on the Eurovision stage was on point – energetic, irresistible and fun without being tacky, AND it had a costume reveal. I danced my butt off to this one, and burned a lot of calories in the process. Thanks, Moldova!
- Cyprus Theft of Loïc Nottet’s backdrop aside, Cyprus made a massively positive impression on me, which is just what I was hoping for as a Gravity Kudos to Hovig for finding the point of balance (pun totally intended) between singing in tune and working one’s way through complicated choreography. You can’t say the man’s not multitalented.
- Armenia The most impressive thing about this was Artsvik’s hair, which had obviously been braided by angels who then moved along to work their magic on O’G3NE’s vocal chords. That’s a compliment, because her costume, vocals and staging were all excellent. The whole package did justice to what’s one of the most unique songs in the 2017 contest.
Other performances to note include Georgia’s – Tamara blew me away even though I’m not a big fan of Keep The Faith ; Montenegro’s, during which Slavko’s sass level was off the charts, but his spinning braid stole the show; and Iceland’s, because Svala wore Baby Spice platform sneakers and actually looked good (something I aspired to back in 1998). Sadly, none of these three countries made the cut when it came to qualifier crunch time. So who did? And more importantly, how accurate were my pre-show predictions?*
*If I’m honest with myself, I know you probably don’t care how right I was…but I do, so let me be narcissistic for a second.
I pulled Poland out of my predicted ten at the last second, but in favour of Cyprus. Finland was already on my list as a certain qualifier, so it’s safe to say that I didn’t see their DNQ – Finland’s third in a row – coming. And when I watched Norma John’s performance again, looking for reasons as to why they didn’t make it, I couldn’t see any (partly because I was weeping over the emotional lyrics and my vision was blurred). This fail to advance will go down in history as one I will NEVER be able to figure out. I figure Finland must have finished 11th or 12th, which we’ll find out soon after the final, but even that doesn’t make sense to me. So if you have the answer, I’m begging you to tell me what it is so I can get some closure!
Finland excepted, I was happy with the results of this semi. Australia managed to make it through (possibly by the skin of our teeth) which was obviously a huge relief, and it gave me the warm fuzzies to see Moldova (who last made it to the final in 2013) and Portugal (they haven’t seen a Saturday night since 2010!) qualify.
How much pleasure, and how much pain – if any – did the semi final one blood puddle (it wasn’t a full-on bloodbath, after all) give you? How did your predictions pan out? Let me know in the comments.
Semi Final 2: A pregnancy, a marriage proposal and another early exit for Estonia
Three things happened during Thursday’s second semi final that I hadn’t expected, and none of them had anything to do with the eventual qualifiers. The first was that Vova and Oleks actually attempted to live up to Love Love Peace Peace, which was a bad idea (though I appreciate the effort and the Ukrainian feel their musical number brought to the proceedings). The second – and third – were the two Major Life Event Checklist boxes that Jana Burčeska managed to tick off in one night (as I sat on my couch in a very glamorous pair of pajamas with only a farting dog for company). As you know, she revealed her pregnancy via her video postcard, only to be proposed to about an hour later by her boyfriend in the green room. It’s lucky Macedonia DIDN’T qualify, because she might have exploded with happiness (and that’d be a lot harder to clean up than the confetti that’s apparently banned from this year’s show).
Jana’s performance didn’t do much for me, but there were plenty that did. Here are five of my second semi highlights:
- Hungary Origo is my favourite entry of the year, and Joci did everything I was hoping for on a stage much bigger than he had to work with at A Dal. Nerves didn’t affect him, the fire jets added more visual interest and the use of the satellite stage for the violinist worked like a dream. FLAWLESS.
- Denmark Umm, speaking of flawless…after Joci came blonde bombshell Anja, who may have done exactly what she did in DMGP (down to wearing the same red dress, which was a welcome change from the clown swimsuit she wore during rehearsals) but nailed every second of it. I love Where I Am too, a lot of that has to do with Anja’s powerful delivery.
- Croatia Yes, this was a personal highlight! I couldn’t help being amazed at Jacques’ ability to sing a solo duet live with ease, but the comic relief of his performance is what made it stock in my memory. The half-and-half costume, those turns from “pop” camera to “opera” camera…it was exactly what I was hoping to see (and laugh at continuously for three minutes).
- Norway This was very similar to what won JOWST the right to represent Norway, but it was SO much slicker. And after a success slump with Agnete in 2016, it was fantastic to see Norway present such a cohesive and current package. I also really like Aleksander’s hat, so that helped.
- Bulgaria Even though I’ve seen countless Junior Eurovision performers take to the stage with confidence and talent beyond their years, there’s something compelling about Kristian Kostov, who’s a little older but still the youngest artist in the adult contest this year. His voice is amazing, and his stage persona is ‘cool as a cucumber’, and packed with genuine (or well-faked) feeling.
This semi served up far more than five epic performances, and others I’d say fall into that category include Austria’s, because it was beautiful and adorable in equal measure; The Netherlands’, what with O’G3NE’s incredible sisterly harmonies; and San Marino’s. Yes, I said San Marino’s. What can I say? Valentina and Jimmie were having so much fun on stage, they almost made Spirit of the Night seem tolerable. It wasn’t a night of good spirits in the end, though, since they didn’t progress from the semi. Here’s who did (like you didn’t already know) compared to who I thought would go through.
Yet again, I had Norway in only to drop them out at the last minute, replacing them with Croatia. As I said, I’m super glad JOWST did qualify, but I feel super sorry for Estonia, who couldn’t shake off the Shock DNQ Syndrome they developed last year. But this time, I found it easier to figure out what went wrong. Verona didn’t work live in the way they’d opted to present it, and the dynamic between Laura and Koit was…well, weird. Koit’s über-dramatic facial expressions were up there with Croatia’s entire performance in the hilarity stakes, and have now become a meme, so that’s something.
I have to admit, although I do love Verona as a song, I didn’t bat an eyelid when it didn’t qualify because I was too busy doing a celebratory dance over Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark and Hungary.
Did any of the second semi’s winners get you on your feet (with excitement or shock value)?
And final-ly…some grand final opinions and predictions
The 2017 final has turned out to be a banger, musically-speaking. There are strings of songs in the running order that’ll barely give us time to take a breath.
Israel will be an ovary-bursting opener – so much so that we might still be fanning ourselves when Poland (in the dreaded second slot) takes their turn. Moldova through Denmark is a worrying stretch for me, since it involves three of my favourite entries mixed in with the two bookies’ favourites. Belgium-Sweden-Bulgaria is an interesting run too. France isn’t as strong a closer as we’ve gotten accustomed to: from what I’ve seen and heard, Alma’s too small on the big stage, and her voice has its wobbly moments.
I’m not going to analyse the running order, because plenty of other sites have already done it with way more finesse than I would, but let’s just say it’s raised some questions, and made the competition a little less predictable.
The biggest question is one I’ll have a go at answering…
Who’s going to win?
I’ve been back and forth on this one. A month ago, I had a gut feeling that Italy was going to finish second. Then I gave in and decided Francesco had it in the bag. Now I’m totally confused and unsure what to expect when the votes come in feat. dramatic music and the kind of tension that brings on heart palpitations (if it’s anything like the Stockholm voting sequence, which nearly killed me).
Realistically, we could be looking at a Fairytale-type landslide for Italy. But the real fairytale ending would be a Portuguese win. If they can do it, it will be their first in 49 attempts (48 if you don’t count 2006’s Coisas De Nada as an attempt to win Eurovision, which TBH you probably shouldn’t).
In doubt about Salvador’s classic song and quirky performance style combining to produce a scoreboard topper? Well, in a last-minute shocker, he’s loosened Francesco Gabbani’s unwavering grip on the odds-on favourite title to become the current favourite to win – and his performance from Tuesday’s semi final has been viewed 1.5 million times, making nearest rival Blanche’s 980k view count look pretty paltry by comparison.
It’s clear Portugal has captured a lot of imaginations (and votes…DUH!) and as someone who didn’t totally get the hype until I suddenly found myself reaching for the tissues during Salvador’s semi performance, I can say that it’s not too late for the country to charm even more people with voting power.
Bulgaria has to be noted as a contender, but I don’t see Beautiful Mess as winning material. Top 3 or top 5, yes.
To throw in a few random, much less likely potential winners – how hilarious would you find it if I named the United Kingdom and Romania? Lucie Jones’ staging is literally gold standard, and she’s scored herself a great performance spot. I still think people are getting a little over-excited, and that a lower top 10 placing is more likely for the UK, but stranger things have happened. Romania would be the perfect package if they actually had something coming out of their cannons. You never know, though…the slogan of next year’s contest could be ‘Yodel It!’. Alex and Ilinca would need one hell of a televote score to make that a possibility, though.
When it comes to the crunch – meaning I’m about to stop fence-sitting – I still think Italy will win, but not by a massive margin. And if Eurovision doesn’t travel to Milan in 2018, then it’ll probably head to Lisbon. I’d be totally fine with that, having spent a half hour this morning Googling photos of the Portuguese capital and swooning at the sheer beauty of it.
But does Salvadorable outshine namaste, alé?
Predicting the top 10, and the bottom 5 😦
Without further ado, this is my best guess at the top 10 – a.k.a. the most sought-after bunch of positions. But I really have no idea what’s going to happen. What else is new?
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
Now let’s head down to the opposite end of the scoreboard. This is my predicted bottom 5:
- Ukraine (sorry!)
Seriously, though…douze points, fifty million dollars and a muffin basket for anyone who can nail either end of the scoreboard down before the final begins.
Speaking of which, the hours before said final are now in single digits, so I’m going to sign off and try to get a power nap in so I don’t fall asleep during the show (thank god Malta didn’t qualify, or I’d definitely be having a snooze). Whether you’re prepping for a fabulous Eurovision party or getting ready to go it alone tonight, I hope you enjoy what’s left of this year’s contest. Join me on Twitter @EurovisionByJaz if you want (which you totally should) – and if you don’t, then I’ll see you on the other side when we have the next 1944.
May the best song (according to the majority of televoters and/or jury members, obviously) win!
DISCLAIMER: I was short on time and delirious with drowsiness when I put this post together, so please forgive me if it’s zero percent funny and ninety percent nonsensical (banana). You can decide what’s wrong with the remaining ten percent…
Let me paint you a very glamorous picture: it’s three o’ clock on Wednesday morning, and I’m sitting on the couch in my mismatching pajamas. My eighteen-year-old, senile, sneezing cat is snuffling on one side of me, my constantly farting dog is on the other side of me, and there’s a large-and-in-charge spider on the ceiling directly above my head.
This was my first live Eurovision-viewing experience, and though I was left wondering why ‘tonight we can be glorious’ (in the words of Cascada) was in no way applicable here, I enjoyed myself immensely. More so once the spider decided to depart, which just happened to be midway through Finland’s performance. I guess he wasn’t a punk fan.
There were a few things I didn’t dig about the show: for starters, the fact that Conchita and her teeny-tiny waist were relegated to the green room rather than having the honour of hosting the whole show. We all knew that was the situation, but as it turns out, our three main hostesses Mirjam, Alice and Arabella were a bit underwhelming. Some hosts – Jaana and Mikko, Petra Mede etc – make their script sound unscripted, but these three did not.
Secondly, not enough time was reserved to create any sort of tension when the results were announced. Talk about a rush job! I expect the magic envelopes (which aren’t really envelopes nowadays, but I refuse to call them anything else) will be opened at a more leisurely pace tonight; but whether Austria’s version of Charlie’s Angels can impress me this time is a question mark.
I did think the postcards were über cute, though. People doing things? Much yes. I wish I could have a parcel delivered to my door that transports me to Austria when I open it. Did ORF round up forty Harry Potter-style Portkeys or what?
Let’s talk about what happened in-between those postcards for a minute. I’m going to race through the running order of Tuesday’s show and give you my verdict on all sixteen performances, before I crack on with my second semi predictions. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Moldova In a word, the opening performance of this year’s contest was trashtastic. It was a good move for ORF to choose Eduard, his permanently-attached trucker cap and his posse of police/strippers to kick things off. And I must commend the guy for not singing like a goat with pneumonia like he did during the Moldovan final.
- Armenia More kudos here for making what was a shambles in studio work remarkably well on stage. Great outfits, nice violet visuals, and solid vocals from all six Genealog…ists. Tamar and Mary-Jean (STRAYA REPRESENT WOOOOOOOO!!!) in particular sounded top-notch.
- Belgium My highlight of the night! Loïc was in his weird and wonderful element, and everything about his three minutes – the costumes, the choreography, the monochrome colour scheme…even his mid-song nanna nap – was cool and contemporary.
- The Netherlands Mediocre, aside from a) the super zoomed-in shot of Trijntje’s face which was frightening, and b) her caped jumpsuit, which looked like the kind of thing a superhero would go skydiving in.
- Finland This goes against everything I’ve said about Finland to date, but *gulp* I actually enjoyed PKN’s performance. It certainly woke me up.
- Greece Well-sung and expertly wind-machined (without compromising Maria Elena’s precarious boob positionage) One Last Breath nevertheless remained a borefest.
- Estonia Stig shall henceforth be known as Estonia’s Houdini after that disappearing act. This was good, and the narrative was well-acted, but I don’t think we’re heading to Tallinn in 2016.
- FYR Macedonia Oh dear. This is the third year in a row Macedonia has stuffed up their staging with a hot mess. If they’d had Daniel in a spotlight and played the music video in the background, it would have been so much better. That is coming from someone who has never staged anything for anyone, ever, though.
- Serbia Bojana is a force to be reckoned with, and she worked the stage like the diva Eurovision deserves. Despite my dislike of the lyrics (trés lame) I have to admit that this looked and sounded very good. But I’m not sure about the result of the costume reveal. I f you’re going to reveal something, it should be something worth waiting for.
- Hungary Boggie didn’t put me to sleep, so that’s a plus. Hungary’s was another performance that I liked without expecting to, so I’m not that surprised it qualified. The streak of success continues.
- Belarus The staging was flat and Time deflated to match. What a shame for Uzari and Maimuna. I know that giant hourglass would have been hard to stuff in one of their suitcases, but it was sadly missed.
- Russia Polina is the Sanna Nielsen of 2015 – a blonde angel warbling among the rest of us mortals. But her performance didn’t scream ‘WINNER!!!’ at me. I can imagine the credits rolling over it, so basically I’m super confused right now.
- Denmark Anti Social Media did what exactly what they did at MGP, which was be smiley and peppy while performing a perfectly serviceable rendition of a perfectly serviceable song. I thought that would have been enough to nudge them into the final , but nope. Denmark misses out for the first time since 2007.
- Albania Elhaida’s vocal, as she is THE Voice of Italy, was excellent…until the last thirty seconds of I’m Alive, which was when she got way too shouty for my delicate eardrums. Thumbs up for the styling though. It’s too bad she couldn’t have loaned the black number to Trijntje.
- Romania Gets me every time! You can bet your prized flag collection that I voted for Voltaj. I’m glad the waiter garb was swapped for something that didn’t say ‘Would you like some cracked pepper, sir?’.
- Georgia Nina is so fierce, she should be sent to live in a tiger enclosure at the zoo. She may be the same age as Lena was when she won Eurovision, their names may rhyme and they might both have a penchant for black, but this was badass on a level that …well, never needed to achieve, but couldn’t if it tried anyway. Go Georgia.
After all of that (plus about a hundred mentions of Australia that I’m pretty sure Europe did NOT appreciate…sorry guys) the voting window opened, and all of us Down Under got our vote on for the first and third-last time (assuming, as I do, that we’re not going to win on Saturday). I went to town texting in for my five favourites, three of whom – Belgium, Romania and Estonia – made the grade. Joining them was Armenia, Greece, Serbia, Hungary, Russia, Albania and Georgia.
There weren’t any shock moments among those rapid results for me personally. Denmark not qualifying wasn’t something I’d predicted, but after their polished-but-not-standout performance, I could comprehend it. Having enjoyed the Hungarian performance, I was actually happy to see them continue the success of their ESC comeback. Hoping but not expecting Moldova and FYR Macedonia to advance, I was satisfied with my top two songs of the semi – Rhythm Inside and De La Capăt – earning places in the final.
Also satisfying was achieving a new record re: qualifying predictions. Nine out of ten, peeps! Like I said, I did think Denmark would make it and that it would be Albania or Serbia through, not both. But I never said I was all-knowing. I’M ONLY HUMAN!
If you’re only human too (or not, I don’t mind) let me know how successful you were in predicting the outcome of the first semi, and what you thought of the show as a whole. Got some highlights and/or lowlights? List ‘em in the comments and I’ll love you until someone else says something more interesting.
Now, let’s get into the thick of semi final two with some more guessing games. Starting with Lithuania and ending with Poland, this installment is not far away at all, so get your viewing snacks and scorecards ready!
Remember, I don’t tune in to the rehearsals, so everything to come is based on the odd photo, reports from the press centre and my opinions.
The running order
Lithuania, Ireland, San Marino, Montenegro, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Czech Republic, Israel, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Cyprus, Slovenia, Poland
Semi final two is the bigger, and, as usual, better semi. It should be a lot more dynamic than Tuesday’s show in terms of musical light and shade, and give us more to bust a move to. By ‘more’, I’m mainly referring to Golden Boy. Do you like my dancing?
My top 10 prediction
A.k.a. where I undo my sad all my good work of correctly predicting 90% of Tuesday’s qualifiers.
There are so many uncertain qualifiers in this semi that none of my previous Top 10s felt right. This one doesn’t either, but I had to settle sometime before the show actually started (you’d be skeptical if I got 10/10 after the show).
Sweden topping the semi tonight is a safe bet, literally, and I’m confident that Slovenia and Norway won’t be far behind Måns and his roly-poly cartoon man – if not in points, then in position. I know not everyone thinks Norway is sure to make the final, but I cannot see such a classy, spellbinding ballad escaping notice of the televoters or the juries.
In the same way that Greece is Greece, Azerbaijan is Azerbaijan. Even if they sent Elnur on stage dressed as the poo emoji, they’d qualify. This time, that’s fine by me – I cannot wait to see and hear Elnur on the ESC stage again, albeit minus the feathers and glitter.
Latvia’s Love Injected, I’m hoping, is striking enough to find favour with televoters and jurors alike. They truly deserve a spot in the final, and if they get it, it’ll be their first weekend appearance since 2008.
I’m predicting Cyprus without being sold on the idea, but everyone else seems to think the island is a shoo-in, and I’m easily swayed.
I think Montenegro can make it in much the same way Sergej did last year – without a massive bunch of neighbours to give them a boost. They won’t be in the top 5, most likely, but I don’t see Knez being borderline either. I believe in the power of Željko Joksimović!
Israel and Iceland are borderline. We NEED Israel in the final for busting of thy moves, but the juries will drag it down – just hopefully not out of contention. Iceland could get lost being sandwiched between Azerbaijan and Sweden and be knocked out by Malta, Poland or Switzerland.
My fantasy top 10
At least there’s one there that’s likely to come true.
My bottom seven prediction 11. Malta, 12. Ireland, 13. Switzerland, 14. Poland, 15. Czech Republic, 16. Portugal, 17. San Marino
San Marino tailing is the only bit of this I’d put money on (so don’t blame any of your SF2 losses on me) but I can see Malta just missing out.
If Poland’s performance is as effective out of rehearsals as it has been in them (so I hear) they too could come close, but there are so many female ballads in this semi it’s going to be hard for the more understated ones to stand out. Performing last, Monika has an advantage in this respect, but not much about In The Name of Love sparks the desire to vote.
If there’s a shock result…it could have something to do with San Marino. I don’t think there’s any danger of the bookies’ favourites missing the mark. If the Czechs make their very first final, that would be something to gasp about too.
Who’s most likely to…
…get the biggest round of applause? Israel/Sweden.
I’ll put it this way: Israel is the Serbia of semi two, and Sweden is the Estonia.
…sing best live? Aminata/Elnur Huseynov.
The pocket rocket and Elnur minus Samir are the vocalists I’m most keen to hear in action. Can Elnur still make canines everywhere head for the hills with his high notes? Hashtag curious.
…sing worst live? Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini.
Just because their competitors have oodles of talent and experience. I had to pick someone!
…make the best use of the background? Ireland/Montenegro/Sweden.
I hear Ireland has set the tone in a refreshingly non-Celtic kind of way, and that should complement Molly’s piano-playing quite nicely. Montenegro might attempt to hypnotise us all with sweeping shots of breathtaking scenery, and Sweden…well, Sweden’s got an army of adorable fat men in berets. You can’t beat that.
…have the most boring stage show? Portugal.
Sure, the wind machine will get a good workout, but Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa is the kind of plodding number that needs interesting staging to sell it, and a gust of air won’t make much of a contribution to that.
…have the best costume/? Norway.
Debrah Scarlett is my new style icon, and if I can’t have her flowing red waves surgically attached to my scalp, I’ll at least be mimicking her structured white ensemble and ornamental headpiece. White is perhaps not the most suitable colour for A Monster Like Me, but she and Mørland look so good in it, I’m willing to ignore that.
…have the worst costume/s? Iceland.
Anything that looks like you could buy a stick of it at a fairground should probably not be worn – even at Eurovision. But María’s fairy floss-esque confection might be sweet in HD, who knows.
Aaaaand I’m done. I’ll be back on Saturday with a review of tonight’s proceedings and at least five answers to the all-important question: who’s going to win Eurovision 2015? For now though, I’m off to bed. I want to get at least a few hours of beauty sleep in before the show starts so I don’t get up looking like Mr. Lordi. Again.
Wherever you are and whoever you look like when you fall out of bed at an unfortunate hour, I hope you enjoy Part 2 of this year’s contest. May your favourites not do better than my favourites!
Who do you think has the edge in the second semi final? Who’s in and who’s out? Will you be convinced I’ve turned into an owl if I say ‘who’ one more time? Let me know below!
I’m back! After close to a week of social media avoidance, I’ve witnessed both semi final 1 and 2 on Aussie TV with much DIY banner-waving and popcorn consumption, and I can now temporarily rejoin you all in Eurovision Land before I have to hunker down again to avoid final spoilers. I’m going to take advantage of this, not just by checking my backlog of Twitter notifications and comments, but by having my say on the semis in brief, and taking another look ahead at the final now the participants and running order is locked in. 3, 2, 1, go!
SEMI FINAL 1
Together, Pilou, Lise and Nikolaj were no Petra Mede or Anke Engelke, but despite their lame jokes and the lack of segue from ‘Good evening, Europe!’ into postcard numero uno (unless our broadcast was edited down…grr) they hosted without fault. Of course, they had an amazing setting and massive audience to work with, which helped.
As someone who can take or leave Only Teardrops, I tolerated the semi-opener by Emmelie de Forest, and quite enjoyed the Ugly Duckling interval act as a lover of fairy tales (that guy’s sequined tracksuit WILL BE MINE! Mwahahaha!). But it’s the performances of the competing songs and the results that we really want to discuss, right? Here’s what I thought.
My performance highlight/s
- Sweden – Having been invested in Sanna from the moment she was announced as a Melodifestivalen contestant (yet again) and Undo being my #1 song of the contest, my best hope for victory, my shoulder, my shelter, my satellite – oops, veering off into Hirsoux territory there – Sweden’s performance was always going to float my boat. What I did not expect was to burst into tears at the end of the three minutes. I think it was a combination of excitement, emotion and…well, my general pathetic-ness, let’s face it. I welled up when Sanna won Melfest, so I should have seen this coming. She was spellbinding, as usual. Perfection with a blonde bob and in black lace. #creepymuch?
- Iceland – Pollapönk dried my tears, coming straight after Sanna and brightening everything up. They looked sharp, sounded great, oozed personality and all in all just had a great time up there, and as a result I did too. I’m finally on board with their decision to sing in English now. Watching them, I thought to myself ‘this has GOT to be a qualifier.’
- Albania – Aside from the tattoo (that’s got to be the most painful postcard of all time) I have to give props to Hersi for singing so beautifully. I love the sound of her voice. Also, she didn’t look hideous as I may have predicted she would earlier this week. I had to pick someone!
- Russia – Here was proof that good staging can make you love a mediocre song. I enjoyed everything about this performance, even though I’m still not sure how most of it – the hair thing, the see-saw, the Perspex light sabers, etc – was relevant to the song or its message. All I know is that it looked awesome. The twins’ vocals were on point too, and they looked very nice. I didn’t see the immature act I was expecting.
- Ukraine – Again, an A+ for staging goes to Russia’s non-BFF Ukraine. That hamster wheel was used to full advantage, both by Maria and her man friend (who I’m assuming wasn’t asthmatic or anything since he had to run pretty much the entire time) in what was a simple but effective staging device. This was actually pared back by Ukrainian standards, but after the initial shock of Maria not being carried onstage by a giant, I appreciated it.
- Portugal – This was old-school Eurovision that still worked like a charm IMO. The crowd was very responsive to it. It was full of energy and Kati Wolf Suzy had the best costume of the night – she looked UH-MAYZING. I didn’t want this performance to end, and I really wanted it to qualify. Sniff.
My performance lowlight/s
- Moldova – First things first: nobody was terrible in this semi. No-one looked awful, sang badly or fell into the moat around the stage (that was a bit of a disappointment). But if I had to choose my least favourite act, it would have to be Moldova because a) it wasn’t as slick a performance as we usually get from them; b) the costuming was fine, but I expected more; and c) WHAT THE %@!* WAS WITH THAT HAIR THING? Whatever happened to tearing off a part of your dress or something? The classics are still okay, guys. Which is more than I can say for Cristina’s scalp right about now.
- Montenegro – What else can I say except YEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! It could have gone either way, but I’m so happy it went this way. Welcome to the final, Montenegro!
- Hungary – Our Australian commentators were surprised by this, but I wasn’t, and I doubt you were either.
- Russia – Saved by staging, Russia went through and broke the JESC Curse. I’m glad some Junior alumni have finally made it to Saturday night.
- Armenia – Duh. That is all.
- Azerbaijan – How shocking for Azerbaijan to qualify! Ha. Ha. They turned out a perfect performance as always.
- San Marino – My jaw actually hit the floor here. As lovely as Valentina looked and sounded, you CANNOT tell me this wasn’t a pity vote in large part. I’m convinced this qualified 10th and stole a final spot from Portugal or Estonia. Still, congrats to SM for making the final for the first time alongside Montenegro.
- Ukraine – Another shocker here. Who on earth foresaw it happening?
- Sweden – I was having palpitations by the time Sanna went through, so thank god they didn’t leave her ‘til last. I may not have been here to type this.
- Netherlands – Riding the wave of Anouk, are we? CATS will add some genre variety to the final.
- Iceland – I’m not sure why Iceland was left until last, but woop woop! I desperately wanted them to fill the final spot, and I got my wish.
How accurate were my predictions?
Fairly, but far from totally! I correctly predicted 7 of the 10 qualifiers, stumbling on Estonia, Belgium and Moldova. After seeing Axel and Cristina in action, I changed my mind, but it was too late to change my prediction. I am shocked by Estonia’s fail, and I bet Tanja is too…but can I just say, Estonia – if you’d picked Sandra, that would not have happened!
SEMI FINAL 2
This was a semi where I knew I was going to lose a country I liked, and to make matters worse, everyone was on top form. Kind of. I didn’t mention the postcards earlier, but I found them very interesting viewing again, and I can’t wait to see the final six. Australia was represented with a song-and-dance that could have been less cringe-worthy, and by the lovely Jess Mauboy who did us proud despite some vocal wavering (having seen the doco about her trip to the ESC broadcasted beforehand, I put it down to nerves). The other interval act, featuring Europe’s finest dancers (who videoed themselves and submitted it to eurovision.tv) was great. Now, on to the main event: the competing entries.
My performance highlight/s
- Poland – That’s it…I’m running away to Poland to be a Slavic girl. This was freaking EPIC! It ticked all of my boxes (not that I normally have a check-box for ‘gratuitous display of boobs’). Cleo has everything a star attraction needs to have, plus attitude in spades; the costumes were as folk-mod awesome as I knew they’d be; handkerchiefs were used to great effect…the list goes on.
- Austria – How could you not be impressed by the power of Conchita? Standing on that platform in her gold dress, looking like a particularly glam Academy Award statuette, she sung the crap out of RLAP like she always does, with a passion that never once appeared forced. Dana International, eat your heart out.
- Lithuania – This was everything I didn’t expect it to be and more. In the minority I may be, but I LOVED it. Vilija looked amazing (even in a leather tutu), sung like a champ and looked totally unfazed by the man who refused to come out from beneath her skirt. 110% on point.
- Finland – Yes, the adorable boys from Softengine did win me over some way with their simple but perfect-version-of-what-it-was performance. They get a gold star for using lighting to add so much to the visual of their act, and lead singer Topi gets a mug of hot lemon and honey tea to conserve his screamability for tonight.
- Greece – You know I’m a little obsessed with Greece this year (song-wise and man candy-wise) so naturally, I was jumping for joy (get it?) after their appearance. It doesn’t take a stack of cash to entertain, and that’s exactly what they did, with the crowd (and moi) going crazy for Rise Up. Plus, thanks to Lise, we now know that Nikolas has a cat called Gary, and that is invaluable information.
My performance lowlight/s
- Ireland – Again, there were no train wrecks in this semi, which was a bit disappointing actually (somebody better screw up BIG during the voting to make up for it) but Ireland’s performance was rather messy and uncomfortable. Kasey’s costume was distracting because it looked like she was wearing three different outfits at once, so that wasn’t the best either.
- Switzerland – Every time the Swiss qualify, I go ‘aww!’, whether I like the song or not. Hunter of Stars has a certain charm, so I was pleased to ‘aww!’.
- Malta – Yeah, they did. There was never a question.
- Slovenia – I’m not sure of where all the votes came from to get Tinkara in the top 10, but she’ll add some ethnicity to the final.
- Norway – I want to congratulate and hug Carl so badly, assuming his ‘silent storm’ isn’t a metaphor for irritable bowel syndrome.
- Poland – YESYESYESYESYESYES!!! Happiness for Jaz is when the Slavic girls make it through when she didn’t think they would.
- Romania – Ugh. I was secretly hoping they’d miss out so I could laugh, but alas, Paula & Ovi are set to lame it up in the final. I’ll only keep the sound on to hear Paula’s glass-breaking note sequence.
- Greece – I’m as happy as a guy in spandex on a trampoline. Which is very.
- Belarus – That’s right, Anti-Cheesecake Brigade. We did it.
- Finland – As with Slovenia, I am slightly confused as to where all the interest for this came from, but as the boys are so cute and were so competent, I say well done Finland!
- Austria – This was always the one that would be left until last. I’ve never seen anyone so relieved as Conchita was to nab that final spot.
How accurate were my predictions?
Slightly more so than in Semi 1! I scored 8/10 this time around, with Israel and Macedonia being my incorrect predictions. But with Poland (one of my favourites) and Switzerland (it’s always precious when they qualify) replacing them, I’m happy I was wrong.
A WORD BEFORE THE FINAL BEGINS…
Right now I’m in that brief gap of time between having seen both semis on Aussie TV, and when the final begins in real time (which I won’t see until Sunday night). Having now seen all but the auto-finalists perform once, I feel it’s only fair I get to update my predictions for what’s going to go down on the scoreboard in the final. And not just because two of the countries I predicted to win didn’t even qualify *blushes*. So…
Who will win?
I’m not much surer of this than I was when I last predicted, but at least now I can say it will definitely not be Estonia or Israel (hashtag FAIL). This contest is still wide open, and all I can do is have a stab in the dark. So here are my stabs:
- Armenia – It’s the favourite. I’ll feel like the world’s biggest moron if I take Aram out of the equation and then he wins.
- Austria – It’s powerful, memorable and interesting. A dated-style winner maybe, but a worthy one based on Conchita’s power and passion alone.
- Malta – There’s just something comforting about this that draws you in, and if it draws enough jury members and televoters in…
- Spain – This is too typical-ESC for me to want it to win, but it has a decent draw, and Ruth has the potential to out-diva Conchita.
- UK – There was already so much going for this entry, and then the UK only go and get drawn in the plum spot of 26! The BBC couldn’t have hoped for a better slot. If waiting all that time to perform doesn’t affect Molly negatively, there’s a good chance she could take this.
Who will make the top 10?
Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden and the UK. I still feel like I’m being too obvious, and there’s sure to be a few surprises up there, so…don’t laugh at my terrible predicting skills. Not to my face, anyway.
Who will be left at the bottom?
Surely it’s San Marino? I know I said that about the loser of semi 1, but my god…it has to be, right? I really wish we didn’t have wait until song 25 to sit through it, but I suppose the UK will look even better coming afterwards. If you’re looking for a shock loser (which we’ve had more than once in recent history) I’d say unless it’s a favourite, it won’t be that shocking.
Who’s not going to do as well as we think?
Romania. Okay, so not everyone is convinced Miracle will be exactly that, but it has none of the spark that Playing With Fire had. It’s relatively early on in the draw, and I think it will be overshadowed.
Who’s going to do better than we think?
Poland and/or the Netherlands. One’s big, brash and full of boobs and the other’s super humble (guess which is which!) but I have this feeling either one (or perhaps both) could defy expectation and neither be considered too OTT or get lost in the field.
With all of that said (‘at long last!’ I can hear you saying) it’s time for me to go to bed while those of you in Europe and those of you planning to watch the final live online get your celebration on, damn you. To be honest, I’m still none the wiser about where we’re headed for the 60th ESC, and that is very exciting. The chances of a runaway victory are slimmer than the chances of this being the last we hear of Valentina Monetta (she’s like Freddy Krueger…no matter what happens to her, she will rise again and attempt to murder you in your sleep) so the voting sequence should be a nailbiter. But before that, we have 26 performances to watch. I hope you make the most of every moment, and that the final doesn’t go by as fast as the semis did. I’ll be back early next week to join you all in the throes of Post-Eurovision Depression. Let’s ride it out together by dissecting every little detail of Eurovision 2014.
May the best song (preferably in my opinion) win!
Hit me up with your highlights and lowlights of the semis, plus your picks for the winner!
I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach, and since I didn’t have anything nerve-wracking to do today, it meant one thing and one thing only: IT’S EUROVISION TIME!!! Well, kind of. As I write this intro, the first semi final is mere hours away, although I won’t be seeing it until Friday night. The Australian TV broadcast kicks off then and continues over the weekend, and it’s a ritual for me to wait for it rather than haul myself out of bed to watch the contest live via a very unreliable stream. I’m not even buying my Eurovision food until tomorrow (my snacks of choice this year being sugared popcorn and Redskins) which is also when my internet blackout starts in a quest to avoid spoilers. It’s hard work, but I’ve managed successfully in the past, not counting the year I found out the winner about an hour before the final was screened here (circa 2010). So I won’t be blogging until at least after I’ve seen the first semi, but I will definitely be back. Feel free to comment or interact with me any time, because it’s up to me to avoid any virtual contact until the coast is clear.
My last post before the winners and losers of tonight’s first semi final are known (I still can’t believe today’s the day!) is a mix of rankings, predictions, expectations and hopes for everything concerning Eurovision 2014. I’ve been so busy with uni lately that a lot of this was written last-minute, so I apologise if that’s super obvious, or if it doesn’t sound like I’m that excited about the ESC being upon us. Believe me, I am – it’s my driving force to get as much study out of the way as possible so I can enjoy THE best weekend of the year. On that note, I’ve got many riveting readings to do tonight, so I’ll get down to business right now. First up, it’s ranking time!
My pre-contest top 37 revealed!
This is my second full ranking of the year (I did my first a month or so ago here on the blog) and to make life easier and more accurate, I used this sorter that’s been circulating around the web for a while now. Here are the results, complete with stats showing how each country has moved up, down or not shifted at all since I last ranked.
- Sweden (+1)
- Greece (+1)
- France (-2)
- Hungary (+4)
- Montenegro (+15)
- Armenia (-1)
- Poland (+2)
- Belarus (-4)
- Norway (+1)
- Denmark (-4)
- United Kingdom (+3)
- Moldova (+11)
- Italy (-1)
- Iceland (-7)
- Portugal (+10)
- Estonia (-5)
- Lithuania (+12)
- Germany (-3)
- Slovenia (+3)
- Malta (-2)
- Spain (-2)
- Albania (-9)
- Belgium (+14)
- Ukraine (=)
- The Netherlands (-8)
- Israel (+2)
- Latvia (-11)
- Russia (+6)
- Ireland (-3)
- Switzerland (=)
- Azerbaijan (-4)
- Austria (+1)
- Romania (-12)
- Georgia (+2)
- Finland (-4)
- Macedonia (-4)
- San Marino (-2)
As you can see, there’s been some serious jumps in both directions. Feel free to let me know below which countries’ songs have made major leaps either way in your rankings, and/or what your pre-contest top 10 looks like.
Now, without further ado/rankings…let the predictions begin, show by show!
Semi Final 1
Who will qualify Armenia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belgium, Moldova, the Netherlands and Hungary
I’m not convinced Russia’s perfect qualification record will be broken, but based on the song and the purported Curse of the JESC Alumni, I’m not convinced they’re a given either. It’s in the bag for Armenia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Hungary as far as I’m concerned, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see others in place of the rest. There are a ton of ‘maybes’ this year!
Who I want to qualify Armenia, Latvia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, Portugal, Montenegro and Hungary
I’m desperate for Montenegro to go through, but after hearing nothing but negative comments about their choice of gimmick (when they shouldn’t have chosen anything) their chances may be dashed. Latvian and Portuguese qualifications would each be sweet in their own way.
Who is most likely to…win the semi Armenia. As far as I know without bothering to check, Aram remains the bookies’ favourite FTW, and as the first semi final’s opening act he’s likely to blow us all away and make sure nobody forgets about him. Other countries in the mix to win would be Hungary (if the subject matter doesn’t prevent it) and Sweden (a prediction made on behalf of biased Jaz of Team Sanna).
Lose the semi San Marino. Valentina has by far the most boring song in the lineup, and I can’t imagine anything about it, even with staging and costume taken into account, that would attract votes in mass.
Get the biggest round of applause Belgium. Axel is the male, Belgian equivalent of Susan Boyle, is he not? There are multiple “moments” in Mother that just strike me as golden opportunities for rapturous applause that drowns out whatever gushing declaration of love for his mum Axel makes next.
Sing best live Belgium again. Say what you will about their entry – this is a man with one heck of a set of pipes. I’d also have to single out Sweden, because Sanna’s vocal is always on point. The clarity of her voice sends shivers down my spine, for cereal.
Sing worst live Armenia. Before you say anything that could be misconstrued as a death threat, hear me out. I’m only pegging Aram as a possibility because his song requires both soft, subtle notes and big, BAM IN YOUR FACE shouts/notes, and as I’m yet to hear him sing live, I don’t know how well he handles that combination. I have heard Ukraine’s Maria was ropey in rehearsals, so she may also be up for this title.
Make the best use of the background Montenegro. All they need is to model their graphics after the Moj Svijet video clip and I’ll be swooning.
Have the most boring stage show The Netherlands. Boring isn’t necessarily bad; there are some songs that shouldn’t be accompanied by tons of pyro and a twenty-foot Hell Machine, or intricate choreography. Calm After The Storm is one of them. There will not be much going on aside from guitar-strumming and staged eye contact.
Have the best costume/s Moldova. Think back to any Moldovan entries past and you’ll find they’ve got the ‘weird yet wonderful’ outfit market cornered. Don’t let Cristina’s hideous neon lace number from the opening party fool you – they’ll be style and edge aplenty in her stage selection. And probably a hairstyle that could win awards for architectural excellence.
Have the worst costume/s Albania. It’s safe to say that Hersi won’t have a dreadlock wrapped around her neck (unless she borrowed one of Rona’s for the occasion) but judging by some of the outfits I’ve seen on her up until now, what she wears on her big night may not be the most stylish of outfits. In fact…she likes lace and Peter Pan collars. Maybe she’ll wear Cristina’s hideous neon lace number? Sorry, Hersi and fans of. You’re more than welcome to prove me wrong.
Semi Final 2
Who will qualify Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Greece, Slovenia and Romania
Once again, there are some definites and more possibles in this bunch. I’m expecting Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Greece and Romania to sashay into the final with no troubles, but the other spots could go to any combination of countries. The likes of Macedonia and Belarus could just as easily get left behind as they could make it through.
Who I want to qualify Malta, Israel, Norway, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Belarus, Switzerland, Greece and Slovenia
I would LOVE the Slavic girls to be there on Saturday night, but I can’t see it based on what I’ve been calling the ‘Igranka effect’ – if that didn’t make the final, why would this? The one time I want Lithuania to do their trick of surprisingly qualifying, it doesn’t seem to be on the cards.
Who is most likely to…win the semi Greece or Romania. My personal preference is for Greece (refer to my bagging of Romania in my last lot of reviews to see why) but I feel like either country could dominate with their high-energy songs and acts.
Lose the semi Lithuania. That’s if they don’t qualify against the odds like they’ve done more than once in the past. I just think there’s so much that doesn’t work with Attention, mostly based on what I’ve heard regarding the visual aspects, that it could easily end up floundering in last place.
Get the biggest round of applause Austria. Conchita’s song is massive, as is her voice and her stage presence. I’ll grow a perfectly-shaped beard if the crowd doesn’t go crazy for her.
Sing best live Conchita. As I said and as we all know, she’s a powerful vocalist who handles money notes and key changes with ease. Unless she’s worn out her chords this week, she shouldn’t fail to impress.
Sing worst live Vilija. Again, I haven’t heard her sing live, so this is more or less down to the possibility. Consider my benefit of the doubt given, though.
Make the best use of the background Finland. Something flashy would definitely spice up a performance in which the band will be in one place the whole time.
Have the most boring stage show Ireland. This song is so mid-tempo, I’m not sure what kind of stage act would work with it. It’s too bad if I turn out to be right about this, because the song doesn’t really go anywhere and some Ukraine-esque score-boosting props or dancers would give it a better chance of success.
Have the best costume/s Poland. Even those of us who haven’t seen Cleo & co’s fashion choices for the contest will know what they are. The mixture of traditional costume and, well, skimpier stuff, goes well with the fusion of folk and modern sounds that is My Słowianie. My runner-up would be Slovenia, as I have seen Tinkara’s dress and it looks amazing. The Slovenian girls always do!
Have the worst costume Lithuania. Again, I’ve seen it, and although it’s nothing on the likes of Moje 3’s candy-coloured monstrosities from Malmö, it’s not good. Actually, come to think of it, one of those ridiculous dresses might have worked for Vilija…
The Grand Final
The lineup, IMO Armenia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belgium, Moldova, the Netherlands, Hungary, Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Greece, Slovenia, Romania, Germany, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. In a totally random, non-producer engineered order, of course. NOT.
Who will win Oh, how I wish that was an easy question to answer! Apart from the fact that I totally don’t, because this is one of the most open contests I’ve ever experienced and that makes it extra exciting. Still, I’ve had such a hard time predicting the winner that I could only narrow my long list of potentials down to five. In alphabetical order, here they are:
Armenia – Not Alone is the favourite, and you can’t discount the favourite! I’m still having trouble visualising the credits rolling over it (which is apparently a good indication of a song’s winning chances) but it certainly has impact and grabs attention.
Azerbaijan – Because come on, it’s Azerbaijan. They have a comparatively unique ballad up their sequined sleeve, a strong voice in Dilara, and what sounds like great staging as always.
Estonia – Amazing itself is close enough to Euphoria that it would be a questionable winner, but it’s accessible and instant, and the presentation will stick in people’s minds no matter where it crops up in the running order. Don’t forget that history often repeats…
Israel – I didn’t see this one’s success in the OGAE vote coming, so I’m attempting to see a possible contest win coming. Mei’s a powerful performer with a very competent pop song that has edge. She could drive straight up the middle of the scoreboard with consistent 6s, 7s and 8s.
UK – I’m hoping Molly has a real shot, and we’re not all getting ahead of ourselves like we did with Blue. The difference here is that not only is the song good, the performance will likely be too. If I Can reached 11th with that messy performance, COTU could do a lot better. And I mean a LOT.
Who will make the top 10 Again, in alphabetical order, my guess is Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Malta, Sweden and the UK.
This list perhaps features too many cliché top tenners, when in recent years there’s been a few surprise acts making it this far. But they’re a surprise for a reason – it’s hard to predict them!
Who will be left at the bottom Finland or the Netherlands, assuming they both get to the final. I just feel that their songs could be the kind that get overshadowed when the going gets tough. Otherwise, France or Germany are possibilities. I adore Moustache and like Is It Right quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean either will capture anyone’s mood. The chances of predicting this correctly are very slim, so I’m just going with random feelings here.
Where the final six will end up I’m foreseeing two of the auto-finalists in this year’s top 10 – Denmark and the UK. Molly may end up anywhere from 1st-6th position, while the host act will likely be in the 5th-8th range. I think Italy will narrowly miss out on the top 10 in about 11th or 12th place, followed by the too-typical Spain in 13th-16th. As mentioned just before, I reckon France and Germany could be (undeservedly) down the bottom end of the scoreboard – in the 18th-26th area.
A few bonus bits
Here are some extra predictions/hopes etc that didn’t fit in anywhere else. Enjoy?!?
The five countries I want to succeed the most Greece, Montenegro, Poland, Sweden and the UK, all for different reasons and with the knowledge that it’s not going to happen for all of them.
Five things I’m excited for
- Seeing the stage in action – it’s like a giant dissected Rubik’s Cube, and that is freaking awesome.
- Watching the postcards – we’ve all been getting our #MyEurovisionFlag on in the leadup to Copenhagen, and now in the postcards, each artist will be doing the same. Props go to whoever came up with that idea (which does remind me a teensy bit of Belgrade ’08).
- Cheering on the Australian entry – Jess Mauboy is representing us, if only in the second semi’s interval act, and I can’t wait to wave a flag for her! I know she’ll do us proud, and it’ll be great practice for when the EBU finally let Australia participate for real. Hashtag IN MY DREAMS.
- Knowing the qualifiers – this year has been incredibly hard to predict, and it will be a relief to finally know which of the many maybe songs are to become finalists.
- Nail-biting my way through the final voting – with such an open year on our hands, the voting sequence has the potential to be the most tense we’ve seen in a very long time. As stressful as that will be, I say bring it on.
Five cities I’d love to see host the 60th contest
- Budapest, Hungary
- Manchester, England
- Paris, France
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Warsaw, Poland
Lugano, Switzerland would also be neat, 2015 being a big Eurovision anniversary and all…any chance you can make that happen, Sebalter? Hypnotise the continent into voting for you via your superior whistling skills!
I think that about covers everything. It’d want to, considering I’ve rambled on for the equivalent length of an encyclopedia. It’s very late where I’m at, and I’m falling asleep on my keyboard (the impressions it’s leaving in my face are extremely attractive) so I’m off to sleep through the start of Eurovision 2014 before commencing my spoiler-watch. On behalf of me, myself and I, I wish you the merriest of Eurovisions, whether you’re watching live or you’re waiting for something better (by which I mean a TV broadcast, not the Finnish entry to come on). May the best song win, whatever that may be, but above all, let the show exceed all of our expectations and make for hours of flag and TEAM SANNA 4EVERRRRRRR banner-waving. Or is that just going to be me?
Get in while you still can, people! Give me your tips for qualifiers, the winner and everything in-between. Or, if the results have been and gone, tell me what I can do next year to improve on my terrible predicting skills…
It’s been two weeks since the first semi of Eurovision 2013, and I am well and truly over the PED. My bout of depression was actually pretty short-lived this year, which makes me feel:
a) Good because I’m not still curled up in a ball on my bedroom floor, sobbing and blowing my nose on a Ukrainian flag (with no malicious intent)
b) Not-so-good because that makes me think I’m a bad fan for getting over it so fast.
But so what if I’m already looking forward to the new season, and the possibility of JESC, and Copenhagen 2014, assuming that’s where we’re going? It’s better than crying into your flag collection for even longer.
Anyway, it’s taken me these past two weeks to put together a little analysis (I use that word to sound important, but really it’s just a ramble with numbers) of the results from both semis and the final. I always find it interesting to dissect this stuff, and I hope you do too, since if you don’t you’re going to be mighty bored for the next fifteen minutes or so. Or you could, you know, just not read it.
But for those who think Eurovision numbers are fun numbers, here’s an overview of the figures from 2013.
Qs and DNQs: Semi final 1
- Denmark 167
- Russia 156
- Ukraine 140
- Moldova 95
- Belgium 75
- Netherlands 75
- Belarus 74
- Ireland 54
- Lithuania 53
- Estonia 52
- Serbia 46
- Montenegro 41
- Croatia 38
- Austria 27
- Cyprus 11
- Slovenia 8
– The Qs in this semi who did not qualify in 2012 were Belgium (last Q in 2010), the Netherlands (last Q in 2004) and Belarus (last Q in 2010).
– The DNQs who qualified in 2012 were Serbia and Cyprus. This is only the second time Serbia has failed to qualify since 2007.
– It was an interesting development for no ex-Yugoslavian countries to qualify this year, but as you can see in Semi 1, three of them weren’t far behind the qualifiers. Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia were hot on the heels of Estonia.
– Poor Slovenia, on the other hand, brought up the rear, having come second last in their 2012 semi. Unless they come last with <8 points in 2014, things can only go up from here.
Qs and DNQs: Semi final 2
- Azerbaijan 139
- Greece 121
- Norway 120
- Malta 118
- Romania 83
- Iceland 72
- Armenia 69
- Hungary 66
- Finland 64
- Georgia 63
- San Marino 47
- Bulgaria 45
- Switzerland 41
- Israel 40
- Albania 31
- Macedonia 28
- Latvia 13
– The Qs in this semi who did not qualify in 2012 were Armenia (who did not compete last year), Finland (last Q in 2011) and Georgia (last Q in 2011).
– The DNQs who qualified in 2012 were Albania and Macedonia. In Baku, Albania reached the top five for the first time, and Macedonia achieved their second-best result ever. It was an off year, let’s just say that.
– San Marino may have failed to qualify yet again, but Valentina Monetta beat her own personal best by achieving their best placing to date.
– Latvia’s was the first song out in this semi, but (to quote Peter Nalitch) it was apparently lost and forgotten by the televoters and juries and ended up last.
The final top ten: facts and figures
- Denmark 281
- Azerbaijan 234
- Ukraine 214
- Norway 191
- Russia 174
- Greece 152
- Italy 126
- Malta 120
- Netherlands 114
- Hungary 84
– In 2011, the winning margin of Azerbaijan over Italy was 32. Azerbaijan received just three sets of douze points, an amount equaled by four other countries and topped by Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina. In 2012, the winning margin of Sweden over Russia was 113. Sweden received 18 sets of douze, bettering Norway’s 2009 record of 16.
– For 2013, the winning margin of Denmark over Azerbaijan was 47. Denmark received eight sets of douze to Azerbaijan’s ten. This made for a more convincing win than Ell & Nikki’s, but a paltry one in comparison to Loreen’s.
– Speaking again of douze, here’s an idea of the spread: in 2011, 20 different countries scored one or more sets of twelve points. In 2012, 13 different countries had the honour. This year, it was also 13.
– The smallest point margin between any countries here was six, between both Italy and Malta and Malta and the Netherlands.
– Azerbaijan appeared in the top ten for the sixth time in six years of participation, and in the top 5 for the fifth time in a row.
– Other countries who also made the top ten back-to-back were Russia (2012) and Italy (2012, 2011).
– Last appearances in the top ten for the others? 2011 for Denmark, Ukraine and Greece, 2009 for Norway, 2007 for Hungary, 2005 for Malta and 1999 for the Netherlands.
And the rest…
- Moldova 71
- Belgium 71
- Romania 65
- Sweden 62
- Georgia 50
- Belarus 48
- Iceland 47
- Armenia 41
- United Kingdom 23
- Estonia 19
- Germany 18
- Lithuania 17
- France 14
- Finland 13
- Spain 8
- Ireland 5
– Eleven of these sixteen qualified from the semi finals, with only six of those having qualified in 2012: Moldova, Romania, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Ireland. The only ones to equal/improve on their previous placing were Moldova (11th in Baku) and Iceland (20th in Baku).
– Sweden was the closest auto-finalist to the top ten, with Spain being the farthest from that end of the table. Both countries, as well as 21st-placed Germany, made the top ten last year.
– Ireland’s last place was the lowest-scoring last place entry in a final since 2007…when Ireland also came last with 5 points.
Voting in the final: a snapshot of what went where
– More on that 100% ex-Yugoslavian free final: the minute it became obvious that this would be the case, we all wondered where the points from Serbia, Croatia etc would go. Bets were on Greece, but as it turns out, the majority went to Denmark, Ukraine, Russia and Italy. Montenegro was the only one to award big points to Greece, with eight.
– Winner Denmark received points from every country, bar San Marino, despite getting douze from Italy. I’ll put that down to a slight difference in population.
– There were the usual neighbourly exchanges of douze points in this year’s contest – for example, between the Netherlands and Belgium, and Sweden and Norway. However, some countries chose to vote elsewhere. Austria gave top marks to Azerbaijan with only six points going to Germany. The Ireland and the UK both ranked Denmark highest, swapping seven points and one point respectively.
– Ireland scored points from three countries to lose, whilst second-last Spain scored from just two.
Ranking the semi-finalists, point by point
Let’s get back to the pre-final shows for a moment. It’s all very well to say Ireland lost Eurovision 2013, but at least they made it to the final! It’s really down to those left at the bottom of the semis to battle it out for the dishonour of being 39th out of 39. So who actually came last, in terms of points? Well, here are the thirteen non-qualifiers ranked by point value (SF2 participants are highlighted).
San Marino 47
Looking at it this way, it was Hannah Mancini who impressed the least, which is surprising to me since I was a fan of her performance. No doubt she’s not thrilled about this, but if the penny has dropped with Ryan Dolan, he’ll have something of an Irish smile on his Irish dial.
How Australia “voted”
As you may or may not know, every year Australian broadcaster SBS allows us to vote unofficially (duh) online. It’s not as good as the real thing (I imagine…sob!) but it’s better than nothing. Anyway, I present to you our top ten for 2013, which may or may not have been partially influenced by large ethnic communities. I say if you can vote for your birth country, go for it.
I have to apologise for Romania doing so well. That had nothing to do with me, I swear. Apart from that, what do you think of the choices from Down Under?
With that, I think we should move on to something less confusing.
Something completely different…a POLL!
As I mentioned in my last post, the EBJ Awards for 2013 are coming up, and this year I want you guys to be a part of the selection process. That’s right, all three of you who read this blog. Congrats.
Most of the awards I’m going to give out are quite specific and subjective, but I’ve decided on one that I think is general enough to go to a public vote. It’s the All-Rounder of the Year Award, to go to the country that got everything right – staging, costumes, choreography and vocals. I’ve narrowed the field down to six nominees, and I’d love it if you’d help pick the winner.
Next week, all the awards will be revealed. I bet the artists are freaking out, because, let’s face it, winning Eurovision is okay – but it’s the gongs from a bogus blog ceremony that really matter.
So I’m off to polish up the equally bogus trophies (in my head, they’re shaped like disco balls, and they shoot out glitter and confetti at regular intervals) so this is ciao for now. May your PED disappear ASAP.
Did some of this year’s results take you by surprise? What made you smile and what had you scratching your head in total disbelief?
Hello again! I’m back, at least for this brief window of time during which I’ve seen both semi finals of Eurovision 2013 but the final hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow I’ll be avoiding even the slightest whiff of a news report from anywhere, until Monday when I can make another comeback to complain about the winner. I bet you’re looking forward to that already.
Anyway, I had a lot of stuff to get out of my head and onto le blog in the wake of semis 1 and 2. At last, here it is.
Watching this first installment on Friday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching Melodifestivalen. That may have had something to do with the location, and the fact that the children vs. Loreen reprisal of Euphoria we saw back in March kicked off the proceedings. But the intimate feel of the stage also gave me that impression. Then Austria opened the show and I started to feel Eurovision-esque again (yay!). Here’s a quick review of Austria and the fifteen countries that followed, as well as some thoughts on the other entertainment, and the results.
Austria: A good opener. Natália sounded great, and that white shirt/jeans combo wasn’t nearly as dull as I was expecting. She looked radiant, which is appropriate. You know, ‘cause of her song. Shine? Oh, never mind.
Estonia: Birgit was radiant too, but for a different reason (why can’t my mother have participated in Eurovision when she was pregnant with me, dammit? That is too cool). Again, she looked and sounded luverly.
Slovenia: This was the ‘wow’ act of the evening for me. Straight Into Love came off amazing in the arena, and Hannah belted it out like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t, if ‘tomorrow’ is a metaphor for ‘chance of qualifying’). Fierce costuming, too.
Croatia: Sigh. This was so beautiful I almost wept. And it’s going direct to my list of songs that should have qualified.
Denmark: It was decent, but I felt nothing. Oh, except a tinge of horror when the pyro curtain went off and I had a flashback to Running Scared.
Russia: Dina really is ‘The Voice’ of Russia, isn’t she? Stunning vocal. But everything else, especially the part when the backing singers “spontaneously” joined hands, was as contrived as the song.
Ukraine: Apart from the cringe-worthy camera shake at the beginning (I can’t help being offended on Igor’s behalf) this was another top-notch performance from Ukraine. Zlata made that papier-maché boulder look so glamorous.
Netherlands: Good use of the satellite stage by Anouk, and a lovely background on the main stage too. Her voice was haunting. *Insert scary ghostly noises here*
Montenegro: Sexy cyborg Nina made this performance. She sounded so studio-perfect I had to wonder if Montenegro had found a way to sidestep the live vocal rule. BTW, does anyone see the correlation between astronauts and cyborgs? What kind of party was this?
Lithuania: Eyebrows. That is all.
Belarus: I’m trying to figure out whether this was more Eurovision 2005, 2006 or 2007. Any way you look at it, it’s dated. Alyona also forgot to wear pants, but I’ll forgive her because her stilettos were totally fabulous.
Moldova: Actually, there was another ‘wow’ act, and here it is! That dress, that hair, that voice, that random dude at the piano who definitely didn’t represent Moldova last year…epic.
Ireland: Ryan Dolan obviously made a pilgrimage to Georgia sometime in the last few months and stocked up on their magical singing potion. That’s the only explanation for his almost flawless rendition of Only Love Survives.
Cyprus: Nice dress. How does the song go again?
Belgium: That’s my boy! Thank the Eurovision gods that Roberto and his lady friends put on a good show. And thanks to whoever decided to have the lyrics scrolling in the background to compensate for his off-kilter English pronunciation.
Serbia: I loved the theatrics of this, especially from Sara. But it was theatre that would have gone better with the old angel/devil outfits, not those candy-coloured crimes against fashion.
– Petra as the single lady (oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh…) host came off a bit more scripted than I was hoping, but she did a good job. I did enjoy that joke about the potential 2013 slogans.
– For those of you who saw it, the skit to celebrate 30 years of Eurovision on Australian TV was naturally a highlight. I am slightly put out that I wasn’t invited to take part. Ha ha ha.
– I loved the journey through contest history, with Petra popping up in different decades by way of extremely well-executed computer graphics. ‘Merci’. ‘You’re welcome.’ ‘Merci’. ‘Yes…’ ‘Merci.’ ‘YOU’RE WELCOME!’ = hilarious.
– There wasn’t enough green room coverage for my liking, although I’m suspicious that a chunk was edited out of our broadcast. It happened last year, and I was not amused.
– The interval act was nice to look at, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been skilled at interpreting interpretive dance.
Qualified: Moldova, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine and the Netherlands
I predicted: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia
I feel: Pretty stupid. 7/10 is not my best-ever effort, but that isn’t the cause of the moron vibes emanating from me at this moment. For weeks, I’ve been thinking three things:
– that Estonia would sneak into the final, despite the similarities to Cyprus the Boring
– that Lithuania has a way of qualifying when it seems most unlikely, and;
– that it could well be curtains for Serbia after just one televised performance.
But last week, when it came time to actually predict, I threw all those thoughts out of the window and excluded Estonia and Lithuania from my selected ten, and left Serbia in. Face. Palm. But what is, is, so I may as well move on to the fact that I am ecstatic about Belgium getting through! I don’t even care that I thought Roberto would lose the semi, it’s so good to be wrong. Sure, he’ll probably be in the bottom 5 in the final, but just to have made it there should give him the confidence boost he needs to pull off an even better performance than he did on Tuesday.
Moldova, Ireland and Ukraine were also welcome qualifiers, and for the Netherlands to advance for the first time since 2004 was brilliant. Bravo, Anouk, a.k.a. Depressed Mary Poppins. I was not so thrilled to hear the word ‘Belarus’ come out of Petra’s mouth, and I can’t help feeling that they stole a precious final place from a worthier country (Slovenia or Croatia, for instance) but since Alyona probably didn’t come 10th, that’s probably not true.
I do wish Montenegro had made it, but since I never expected them to, I can deal. I will miss Moje 3, however. Nevena evidently had a better knack for Junior Eurovision.
For once, it was hard to tell whether the first or second semi was the strongest. There was a lot about this one that I was excited for, with a bunch of my top-ranked entries AND one of my favourite artists of all time featuring in the lineup. Here’s round two of my review.
Latvia: Another good opener – I have to praise SVT for that. PeR were also generous enough to give us, as lead singer Ralfs said himself, the first stage dive in Eurovision history. Am I the only one that would’ve laughed if nobody had caught him?
San Marino: This Valentina Monetta was not the same one who took to the stage in Baku. This one was a glamorous, charismatic lady in red with an unusual attachment to an IKEA light fitting. I loved this.
Macedonia: Two words – train and wreck. This song is best reserved for studio audio.
Azerbaijan: Damn, the Azerbaijanis can stage an ESC entry! That’s if they actually were responsible for the staging, and didn’t import that from Sweden as well. Anyway, this was very good, and while Farid doesn’t normally light my fire, he was looking mighty fine.
Finland: Loud, energetic, she kissed a girl and we liked it.
Malta: Paging Dr. Adorable…oh, there you are Gianluca. This was so cute, right down to the lyrics popping up in the background in all manner of fonts. I’m a font fan.
Bulgaria: I was transported straight back to Helsinki thanks to Elitsa and Stoyan, which isn’t a bad thing (2007 is one of my favourite contests). It’s a shame Bulgaria had to learn the hard way what we all knew early on – that bringing back this duo wasn’t the answer to their problems.
Iceland: I wonder what brand of conditioner he uses?
Greece: I’ve really come to love these guys. The costumes and choreography were epic, and I’m so grateful for Agathonas’ sneaky ‘stache stroke at the end.
Israel: The song might be a tad repetitive, but Moran’s voice is incredible, and it was in fine form for this performance. As were her lady lumps.
Armenia: I was wrong about Gor’s vocal. He was in tune the whole time, and even held back on the gymnastics. Consider my words eaten.
Hungary: This was three minutes of breathy hipster beauty, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if he looked disinterested – I am in love with Kedvesem and the performance was wonderful.
Norway: I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about this, but Margaret’s shoes were kind of hideous. Apart from that, she looked as ethereal/bad-ass as ever.
Albania: Holy flaming guitars, Batman! Adrian and Bledar almost literally set the Malmö Arena on fire. A commendable show, boys. Though I must say, a little too much texturising spray was used on Adrian.
Georgia: Unlike Russia, this performance was more sickly sweet than the song. My mother, who happened to walk past while Sophie & Nodi were doing their thang, said she liked it. I’m not sure if that bodes well for them or not.
Switzerland: I have a soft spot for Takasa, but this was boring.
Romania: And now for something that you could never call ‘boring’. Cezar was like a camp warlord on helium out there, but his voice was on point.
– The opening act marked the first time I have every enjoyed watching people on BMX bikes.
– But enough bike talk. I’ve got to get on to the interval act that I vote to win Eurovision 2013. Yes, I’m referring to the Darin/Agnes extravaganza. I had been looking forward to this a ridiculous amount, what with Darin being my absolute favourite male artist on the planet and Agnes being one of my top females. My expectations were met, and then some. Both Swedish superstars rocked the arena, with Agnes kindly singing the two songs I would have chosen for her whilst surrounded by a year’s worth of material from a chiffon factory. Darin was just Darin. To see him on the ESC stage when it’s unlikely he’ll ever do so representing Sweden was a life highlight.
– In other news, Lys Assia made it to Sweden!! That woman is my hero. Approximately 147 years old and poorly, but still making the trek to be at the contest and get her mug on the telly.
Qualified: Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece
I predicted: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania
I feel: less stupid than before. 9/10 ain’t bad. But even if I’d gotten 1/10 (not statistically possible, but I’m trying to make a point) I’d have been happy, because Hungary, the one country I was desperate to qualify, was the first to go through. I can’t even tell you how loudly I screamed when that happened.
The next four to be announced were pretty obvious ones, though part of me was hoping Romania would be left behind. Iceland and Armenia were a little surprising, despite my gut feeling that Armenia would make it. I was chuffed for Finland and Malta.
When it came down to the last butterfly, it was only going to be Greece or San Marino (and so I was wailing for the loss of Israel). As sad as I am that it turned out not to be SM, a final wouldn’t be a final without Greece.
Well, just like the semis, my wrap-up is now over. But as upsetting as both of those things are, just remember that the grand final is still to be held, and it’s a final that should conclude with a tense voting sequence. The way I see it, there are four or five countries that could score their way into the winners’ club (if there is such a thing). Because I’m head honcho here and I can, I’m going to re-predict who that winner will be right here, right now.
Azerbaijan – They’ve got everything it takes. I still don’t think the song is one of the best on offer, but since when has that stopped Azerbaijan from winning?
Denmark – Yes, the favourite. I may not be overly fond of Only Teardrops, but I’m not idiotic enough to give it no chance of topping the table.
Germany – This song was made for an arena, and I think that will come across strongly enough on TV for voters to respond. The juries could be Cascada’s downfall, but Natalie’s ability to command the stage should be rewarded at least.
Italy – If simplicity and beauty is going to win out over OTT and cheesiness, then Marco could come out on top.
Russia – Speaking of cheesiness…ugh. But after the reasonably cleverly-staged performance, and the reaction of the audience (and the fact that I found myself humming along) I couldn’t not go there. This could happen, people, so prepare yourselves.
Belgium – Just kidding.
I’m more than happy for a random country to take out the coveted prize. What about you? And what were your highlights and lowlights and travesties and triumphs from the semi finals? Let me know below.
I’ll be back once the Land Down Under has broadcast the final, to discuss it in detail. As for life after Eurovision 2013? Well, I have a feeling I’ll be chatting about Malmö for a long time to come. Maybe you’ll join me?
So last night, approximately a hundred years after the rest of the world, Australia got to witness the first semi final from Baku. It took me at least ten minutes to stop hyperventilating (because I was overexcited, not because I was terrified of Montenegro being first up) and start enjoying it all. Despite the fact that the stronger semi and the one with most of my favourites in it is number two, which I’ll see tonight, I did have a good time watching and flag-waving at my party for one (as usual, nobody else in my household showed the least flicker of interest – there is definitely something wrong with them) and I thought that, generally, the performances were strong. Here’s my more detailed take on the first 2012 installment, direct from the land Down Under…
– Montenegro being act 1 turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the song (I mean, the “song”) was over in a flash and made way for Iceland, who I feel were the real competition beginners since Rambo never had a chance of qualifying anyway.
– Speaking of Iceland, their dramatic three minutes was a definite highlight, mainly because there were many close-up shots of Jónsi over which I could freely drool because I was by myself.
– Rona Nishliu’s performance for Albania was my favourite of the night. As you may or may not know, I initially hated Suus, but made a swift and unexplained turnaround after I saw the preview video. The live staging did not disappoint, as it was minimal enough to keep the focus on Rona and her insanely amazing voice (seriously, someone needs to put a straight jacket on that thing. It is CRAZY). Her intensity and emotion was all there, and her costume was just as weird and wonderful as I’d been hoping for…although that stray dreadlock did gross me out a little.
– I’ve never seen a moonwalking bagpiper before, so thanks for that, Romania. I wonder if he’ll go on to enjoy the same fame and hilarious Youtube remixes of the epic Moldovan sax guy of Year Oslo?
– Cyprus put on a great show. I loved their outfits, I loved their choreography, and I loved the book-stack prop (once the commentator had informed me that’s what it was. I thought it was a pile of brick pavers at first). I can’t say I loved Ivi’s vocal, but she was far from dreadful. She pulled it off.
– Ireland’s water fountain – the second most literal prop being used this year after Donny Montell’s blindfold – was put to very good use. It was certainly a more fluid mover than either of the Jeds.
– I don’t actually have many of these to talk about. I will say that I wish Austria had incorporated more popo into their act. There was too much pole dancing in my opinion, and not enough shaking of bottoms. Yes, I am a twenty-year-old female who advocates sexist lyrics and accompanying dance moves. You got a problem with that?
– I also feel that the whole show went by very quickly. Eurovision often does, because time does fly when you’re having fun as people who like to talk in clichés say, but I think there was a genuine rushed feeling about it all. The transitions between acts were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapid, and the digital enveloped were opened so fast that, has they been real, they would have caused more than a few paper cuts.
– There was no interval act during my broadcast, and I was curious as to whether that was the case in Baku, or if the Australian broadcaster SBS had cut it out. Either way, I was disappointed.
LE SHOCKS AND SURPRISES
– For some reason I expected Anke Engelke to welcome us to Azerbaijan. Last year she made the steadfast hosting script genuinely entertaining, which Leyla, Nargiz and Ell couldn’t quite manage. They looked pretty, though.
– I was pleasantly surprised by the Crystal Hall’s involvement in introducing each country. Whoever came up with the idea to light it up to resemble all 18 national flags deserves a high five.
– Greece’s Aphrodisiac worked very well in the arena – better than it worked in the shopping centre that housed their national final, anyway. I always forget what an impact the traditional music, and the traditional dancing, and the slightly less traditional skimpy dress of the quintessential Greek frontwoman has when you stick it all on a stage in front of thousands of excitable and/or drunk fans.
– Two performances I didn’t expect to enjoy/am ashamed to admit I did came from San Marino and Russia. I don’t know why I liked San Marino’s. Valentina can sure sing, but the costumes were frightening and made no sense, and we all know the song is as high-quality as something a dog would do on the lawn – but I liked it. Go figure. Russia, on the other hand, I suppose is easier to justify. As I predicted, the Babushki received the biggest round of applause of the night, probably because they managed to sing, dance and bake at the same time (and they’re so cute!) Plus, now we know where they found the time to cook those pies for everyone in the press room: during their first rehearsal.
In order of callout, the lucky ten qualifiers were Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and Ireland. This was an easier semi to predict, so I can’t really gloat about getting 8/10 correct. I didn’t think Hungary or Albania would make it, but I’m glad they did – especially in Albania’s case.
I’m very happy for Cyprus. They’re one of those countries that often try so hard but never get anywhere, so I’m thrilled they’ve booked a place for Saturday night.
It did give me great pleasure also to see the powers that be make Jedward sweat it out, and wonder if they were in fact as popular as they thought. I don’t think we would have seen quite as many cartwheels (an amount that puts Donny’s lone one-hander to shame) had they been announced earlier.
To finish off, I’ll just mention the results of the unofficial Australian vote, conducted at www.sbs.com.au/eurovision. Unsurprisingly, it was the grannies who took out the top spot, followed by Ireland and Denmark. Rounding out our top 5 were Iceland and Cyprus. We may well have agreed with Europe, although I can’t imagine that the Babushki scored highly enough with the juries to win the semi. Time will tell who triumphed, who just slipped in and who just missed out…
That’s about all I’ve got to say re: Semi #1, which I suppose was quite a lot. When it comes to Eurovision I can go on for days, so you should count yourself lucky this post wasn’t that excessive. I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap-up of the second semi, so please don’t tell me who the winner is when I’m still getting over the fact that “Insert Country Name Here” didn’t qualify. In the meantime:
What were your highlights/lowlights of Semi 1???
Prior to 2004, what we saw at Eurovision was what we got, with just one show every year: the Grand Final. Since then, we’ve gone from one semi and a final to thrice the original amount with two semis deciding which songs make the cut. Naturally, with those semis came some heartbreak (and slight exaggeration) as there were only a certain amount of songs that could qualify, with the others left behind to wonder what they did wrong (too much wind machine wind? Not enough wind machine wind? The list goes on forever…) and us fans left to mourn the loss of some cracking entries, be they cracking to the general audience or only to ourselves.
For many, the quintessential one-that-got-away, well, got away, in Athens 2006. Back then, the chiffon-clad Kate Ryan from Belgium– an early favourite – wound up in 12th position in the semi with Je T’adore, and with that became the go-to name for anyone referencing a travesty on the ESC qualification front. Ironically, Kate Ryan herself, for moi, was not a Kate Ryan moment. AWKWARD! I wasn’t particularly flabbergasted when she failed to get more points than Elena Risteska’s denim cutoffs. However, I can certainly identify with the shock that accompanies who doesn’t yodel/gyrate/etc their way to that splendiferous Saturday evening in May. And so I present to you my personal list of non-qualifiers – those that shocked and/or surprised me when they failed to advance.
#1. Live It Up by Yüksek Sadakat (Turkey 2011)
Finished: 13th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because I am STILL trying to recover from it. Turkey. Did. Not. Qualify. I had always thought that countries like Turkey (and Greece, and Ukraine, and…) could send a yowling cat in MC Hammer pants to Eurovision and still make the final, but apparently contortionists in hamster wheels are a curse. In a way I am glad for this fail, however, because it proved the power of the jury vote.
#2. Haba Haba by Stella Mwangi (Norway 2011)
Finished: 17th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because I was sold on Stella, and convinced Norway would continue their run of appearances in the final. But, alas, the haters were proved correct and Miss Mwangi not only missed out on a golden ticket, but missed out by a mile. Was it the legendary Curse of Number Two that was responsible?
#3. Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)
Finished: 13th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because this was my goosebumping, spine-tingling song of Year Oslo, and I thought it was going to win – and apparently assumed everyone else felt the same. I would have bet my entire stamp collection (if I had one. I totally don’t. Cough cough) on its qualification. Lucky I didn’t. By far the biggest blow of the 2010 contest for me.
#4. Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi (Switzerland 2008)
Finished: 13th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: My last post will tell you everything you need to know. Seriously, I’m not repeating it!
#5. San Angelos S’agapisa by Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011)
Finished: 18th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because I think Cyprus often gets overlooked because they are Cyprus. This remains one of my favourite songs of this year’s contest. I think it worked amazingly in the arena, and the presentation/costuming etc was on a douze point level (they may have had a crazy lady swinging a ball but at least they didn’t have a tacky oversized stapler). Your loss, Grand Final ’11 – your loss.
#6. If I Had Your Love by Selma (Iceland 2005)
Finished: 16th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because everyone expects successful former entrants to qualify, if not to do well once they have qualified (well, they used to, before a certain Israeli diva returned…but I’ll get to that). Sure, IIHYL wasn’t a patch on Selma’s 1999 runner-up All Out of Luck, but since when did a returnee’s song have to be any good to get them somewhere? Just ask Dima Bilan.
#7. This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Finished: 11th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because it (a song I know many fans detested but I love/d unconditionally) was locked in a battle for the last final spot with Denmark (a song I know many fans adored but I thought/think was/is revolting) and Denmark won. I will be forever bitter. Even though technically it was Cyprus who took the last place by qualifying 10th, but I have too much love for Jon Lilygreen and all associated with him to place blame in that direction.
#8. Ding Dong by Dana International (Israel 2011)
Finished: 15th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because I was honestly surprised when it didn’t advance. Sure, the song was generally greeted with squeals of horror (so naturally, I liked it) but this is Dana International we are referring to here people! The glamorous poster woman for women who once were men! Eurovision ROYALTY.
#9. Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)
Finished: 12th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because it’s yet another stunning song (with another crazy lady) that was overlooked in favour of entries with angle grinders and grandmothers. Not that I don’t love both of those things.
#10. Firefly by Christina Metaxa (Cyprus 2009)
Finished: 14th in the semi
Why it’s a KR moment: Because I think it was magic. Is that a good enough reason? Again, the staging was gorgeous, and generally a lot of effort was put into the entry. So much classier than Ukraine (although I have to say, I think even the Bucks Fizz skirt-rip was classier than Ukraine…)
And don’t forget about these guys…
Mr. Nobody by Anžej Dežan (Slovenia 2006)
Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj (Slovenia 2008)
Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan (Serbia 2009)
Eastern European Funk by InCulto (Lithuania 2010)
Horehronie by Kristina Pelakova (Slovakia 2010)
So, I’ve showed you mine…what are the songs you think should have qualified in the past?
PS – In case we don’t chitchat again before Sunday, MERRY CHRISTMAS FOLKS!
The (always) stronger semi final is over for me now, and wasn’t it a cracker! Even the performers I’d been worried about put on great shows, didn’t they, Jedward/TWiiNS/Eric Saade? Even though we all know that the backing singers were doing 90% of the work, don’t we, Jedward/TWiiNS/Eric Saade? Anyway…tonight’s final should be out of this world amazing! And I have a sneaking suspicion we haven’t seen the winner perform yet.
If you read my wrap-up of semi 1, you’ll know what to expect from this one! So here come the highlights:
– Bosnia & Herzegovina’s gorgeous opener. I had to ignore all the senior citizen jokes coming every second from Aussie commentators Julia and Sam in order to bask in Dino’s ambience. He is just lovely, that’s the only way I can describe him. And despite my fears that the song would be a strange opener/wouldn’t translate to an arena, it worked. Big love. And big love for that checkered coat. Where can I get one?
– The jaw-dropping vocals from Austria and Slovenia. I’m not loving either of these songs, but when Nadine and Maja were on that stage in their mini-dresses and designer stilts, I could not tear my eyes away from them. Or should that be my ears? Whatever. When I grow up, I want to sing like that (let’s just forget the fact that both Nadine and Maja are about my age).
– Cyprus throwing everything including the kitchen sink (albeit aptly decorated) at their act. No, it didn’t qualify, but it was haunting and exciting and dangerous and how on earth do they do that leaning thing? I meant to write a letter to Sakis Rouvas when he did it atop that giant stapler in Moscow, to ask how, but now I can pick Christos’ brain!
– Those über-awesome break dancers from the interval. They may not become a worldwide phenomenon á la Riverdance, but how epic were they! I also must mention Cold Steel, SF1’s interval act, who were also top notch.
– Ukraine. Not Kseniya Simonvoa, the sand artist who it turns out I’d gaped at on Youtube about a year ago (she’s got skillz). Not even Mika, who looked stunning as always and sang perfectly. But Angels itself. Sure, I’m pleased they qualified, but I was hoping the new version of the song would smash it live, unlike on the CD where it sounds so…meh. But it didn’t. I still believe the song was perfection in its original, preselection form, and whoever transformed it into what it is now should be jailed. I fear a last place in the final is upon Ukraine for 2011.
– Estonia turning out a much more mediocre performance than I’d expected. Getter’s vocals were a little off, and as for the outfits – they went from modern magnificence to Minnie Mouse on meds. I’d thought Estonia still had a chance of winning before tonight. Not any more. Sorry!
– Latvia staying in the semis. Sob.
So who managed to escape the semis? That’d be Estonia, Romania, Moldova, Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Austria, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Sweden, lucky last as I think we all knew they would be. And this means, that, you know, I got 90% of them correct-a-mundo! I reckon that’s the closest I’ll ever get, so it’s a personal cause for celebration. Now, I know Germans like to be prompt, but they certainly raced through the magic envelopes tonight! At this rate, the final voting should be done and dusted in ten minutes. Phew.
Now to check up on the Australian scoreboard over at SBS Eurovision: Bosnia & Herzegovina topped the poll, followed by Ireland, Belgium, Austria and Sweden. We also liked Macedonia, Slovakia, Netherlands, Israel and Cyprus. We didn’t love Belarus, who only got 21 votes – still, the website did crash from an overload of traffic. We’ll blame that, ok Anastasia? Visit http://www.sbs.com.au/eurovision/ to check it all out yourself.
I’ll finish up with, as you’re all making the last arrangements for your parties, a quick preview of the grand final!
– Paradise Oskar from Finland has the honour of kicking things off, which proved beneficial for Azerbaijan last year. I have officially been won over by this guy and his cutesy message song. I even love his grandpa dress shirt.
– Singing in the damned 2nd position is Bosnia &Herzegovina. Let’s hope Dino can break tradition and finish on the right side of the scoreboard (by which I mean the left side).
– France is the first Big Fiver to take the stage tonight in 11th place. Lena won last year singing 22nd…is this a double-digit sign from the Eurovision gods?
– On a similar note (pun!) the UK will take the 14th slot, taken by Manga in 2010, who as we all know, ended up with the silver medal. I firmly believe the Blue boys can do the same, or better, if they can (another pun!) pull off a powerful, polished show.
– For the penultimate and last songs, we’ll have two very different sounds. Serbia and Georgia will end the running order.
When it comes down to it, the trophy is up for grabs by a bunch of countries. Who will be the winner? And more importantly, which outfit will be deemed awful enough to win the Barbara Dex Award? Time will only tell…make the most of it!
A Very Excited Jaz x